World’s Largest Wind Project is Underway

After nearly a decade of delays, ground was officially broken on the world’s largest wind project, a 1,550 megawatt (MW) farm located in Tehachapi Pass, California. The project, which is being developed near the first large-scale wind farms installed in the U.S. in the 1970s and 1980s, is a powerful illustration of the growing size and scope of modern wind projects.

The project, dubbed the Alta Wind Energy Center, is nearly double the largest existing wind project in Roscoe, Texas. The Alta development is expected to create more than 3,000 domestic manufacturing, construction and maintenance jobs and contribute more than a billion dollars to the local economy. The wind farm is being developed by Terra-Gen Power.

Terra-Gen closed a $1.2 billion financing deal earlier this month with partners that included Citibank, Barclay’s Capital and Credit Suisse. The law firm Chadbourne and Parke represented Terra-Gen in the deal.

The project will consist of around 300 turbines installed over a 9,000 acre area. Southern California Edison has agreed to a 25-year power purchase agreement for the power.

While it took more than a decade to get the project built, it shows just how mature wind is today. The lack of long-term policy support in the U.S. may hinder the development of future projects like this, however. The U.S. Congress still has not passed a national renewable energy target or a carbon cap and trade program, and the production tax credit for wind is set to expire at the end of 2011.

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